Former soldier slams Bloody Sunday ‘flying debris’ quiz

Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday

A former soldier who has been interviewed about the alleged attempted murders of two men on Bloody Sunday has spoken out about the investigation.

The man, identified only as Sergeant O, is aged 76, based in south England, and was reportedly interviewed under caution by police in April 2016.

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Both of the two injured men were thought to have been hit by flying debris.

He was quoted as telling The Telegraph, in an interview published late on Tuesday night, that the probe is “completely ludicrous”.

He said: “Why am I still being investigated after all these years? I am sickened. The Government has mishandled this so badly. I feel very badly betrayed. It is absolutely scandalous.”

The Telegraph said that he was being investigated on suspicion of the attempted murder of Patrick McDaid and Pius McCarron, and that he has neither been charged with any crime, or notified that he will not face charges.

The article quotes him as saying that on the night of Bloody Sunday, he gave a statement to military police and has “stuck to that statement ever since”.

He added: “They said there will be an investigation and there was by Lord Widgery. I had no problem with that. You would expect an investigation. He came out with his findings about two months later. As far as I was concerned that was the end of it. I was wrong.”

He was also questioned by “three or four lawyers” at the Saville Inquiry.

He contrasts his own treatment with the treatment of IRA suspects who received “comfort letters”.

He said soldiers “don’t want a pardon because if we accept that it is an admission we did something and we didn’t”.

The article described him as a widower, a grandfather, and suffering from limited mobility as a result of a stroke.

“The Queen gave me my Military Medal at Buckingham Palace,” he was quoted as saying.

“And yet 46 years later they are trying to do me for attempted murder.”

Sergeant O also said in the Telegraph article, regarding the nature of the injuries in the case: “I thought during the police interview ‘how can I be charged with these shootings when all I’m being accused of is knocking off concrete’.”

Tory MP and ex-soldier Johnny Mercer said: “I am genuinely ashamed to be in the party of Government whilst this continues.

“A bit of concrete in the back from 46 years ago? I cannot fathom what this man and his family are going through and I can only assure him that the parliamentary party - where the power really lies in parliament - is considering all options to halt this process.”

WHAT DID SAVILLE REPORT SAY?

Patrick McDaid was 24 at the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972.

A surgeon in the Saville report said he suffered a “glancing wound” to his shoulder blade.

The inquiry accepted it was not from a bullet, and most likely from “a piece of debris sent flying when an Army bullet hit the ground or some other object”.

The Saville report said soldiers, including Sergeant O, had given accounts of firing “towards the gap between Blocks 2 and 3 of the Rossville Flats, only a few yards from where Patrick McDaid was injured”.

Pius McCarron was about 30 on Bloody Sunday. He died in 2004.

The Saville report says he was injured in the Rossville Flats area too, “hit on the head by masonry dislodged by a bullet or bullets”. The report indicated both men had been running away.

WHAT DO AUTHORITIES SAY?

The PPS said in a statement that when it comes to what action it may take in the Bloody Sunday cases, “the volume of material and complexity of legal issues involved have made it difficult to provide a definitive timeframe for decision”.

The consideration of all files are “at an advanced stage”, however.

It said its files “relate to 18 soldiers and two OIRA members”, and that the individuals in question were reported for the offences of murder and attempted murder.

In a statement, the PSNI said that 18 soldiers had been interveiwed under caution, and confirmed that a number of files had been sent to the PPS, adding that “a clearer indication of the exact timings of final decisions is likely to be known in coming months”.

It also echoed the PPS’ line about the difficulty in giving a “definitive timeframe” almost verbatim.